New findings on genes that drive male-female brain differences, timing of puberty

Medical Xpress | January 02, 2019

Researchers have identified a group of genes that induce differences in the developing brains of male and female roundworms and trigger the initiation of puberty, a genetic pathway that may have the same function in controlling the timing of sexual maturation in humans. The study, led by Columbia University scientists, offers new evidence for direct genetic effects in sex-based differences in neural development and provides a foundation to attempt to understand how men's and women's brains are wired and how they work.
The research was published Jan. 1 in eLife, an open-access journal founded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust. Scientists have long known that puberty is accompanied by substantial changes in the brain characterized by the activation of neurons that produce hormonal signals. But what causes the brain to start releasing the hormones that switch on puberty remains elusive. "In this paper, we show that a pathway of regulatory genes acts within specific neurons to induce anatomical and functional differences in the male versus female brain," said lead study author Oliver Hobert, professor in Columbia's Department of Biological Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Spotlight

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology comprises an interactive faculty engaged in research in infectious disease and host immune response. We study a range of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and other insults such as toxins. Our immunology interests stretch from understanding immune protection to vaccine development. Consequently our faculty members are associated with many Graduate Fields. To meet our faculty, come join us at our TGIF, held every Friday afternoon on the 5th floor of VMC!

Spotlight

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology comprises an interactive faculty engaged in research in infectious disease and host immune response. We study a range of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and other insults such as toxins. Our immunology interests stretch from understanding immune protection to vaccine development. Consequently our faculty members are associated with many Graduate Fields. To meet our faculty, come join us at our TGIF, held every Friday afternoon on the 5th floor of VMC!

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